It seems trite to say that change is difficult. There is nothing simple about change or the numerous variables that go along with it. Even the concept of defining change, as a process of interlocking steps, is complex and challenging.
When we think about our own personal reactions to change, how many of us have decided to do something differently just because someone else suggested we should? The answer to that is probably, never.
Most of us need multiple, compelling reasons to make changes in our lives, both positive and negative. We need constant reinforcement along the path to making a successful change. We need someone to push us forward when the backwards pull of inertia is too strong. We need someone to shake us out of our familiar habits when they become far too tempting and we want to go back to the comfort of where we began. We need someone to show us why we should make the change. We need someone to give us concrete rewards once we have achieved success along the way. We need others to be engaged with us all the way along.
Having said that, there is nothing linear about the change management process. It does not follow a straight path from the decision to make a change to a successful conclusion where the change is complete and nothing else happens. For some of us, we go through significant changes without even realizing that they have happened until we have had time to reflect and observe that which is different in our lives between ‘now’ and ‘then’. Again, we may need someone else to point out that we are in a different place, if we are not able to see it for ourselves when we get there.
In the complexity of the change process, we must rely on numerous sources to help us through the most challenging of times. It is no different for organizations when they go through similar change processes.
Successful organizations must rely on the commitment from multiple sources to keep the change process moving forward. Catherine Smithson outlines the need for a variety of roles within organizations managing change.
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While Smithson is clear in identifying the need for a Change Management leader, she also identifies the continuing need to have multiple roles committed to the process in different parts of the organization. Organizational change does not happen through the allocation of a change management project to one person in particular. It happens by having different roles embedded and committed to making change happen. These roles must push, pull, challenge, reward, and reflect upon the complexities of the journey along the way.
Change might be good, but surely, it is not easy to do it alone.
- When thinking about your own experience, when you wanted to make a change who did you rely upon to make that change happen?
- What types of pressures would force an organization to make changes?
- What types of rewards do employees need to stay on the path of continued change?
- How can organizations identify the completion of a change process?
- Which roles or functions in an organization must be involved in making change happen?